Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the most commonly used, evidence-based approach for teaching students with autism. Students with autism are taught through systematic strategies and are consistently reinforced for displaying desired behaviors. A vital part of this program is the collection of daily data to measure the progression of skill development and to equip staff with information they need to make judgments regarding programs.
Social Skills training is incorporated into all autistic classes and is applied during community-based instruction. Instruction in the community provides a real world opportunity to assist in the generalization of skills learned in the classrooms.
A small teacher to student ratio is maintained in order to maximize instruction. Individual, dyad and small group instruction are employed depending on the needs of the student and the demands of the curriculum. Staff engage in strategic planning for transition to more inclusive settings.
The social skills curriculum focuses on the development of social skills including play, conversation, understanding nuances, body language and various sensitive topics.
MCSSSD provides ongoing training for staff working in the autistic program. The assistive and educational technology team provides evaluations, assistive technology and communication devices to expand independence and communication skills. Augmentative communication training and support is provided by this team for staff, students and parents.
Home Program - Autism
Parents of students diagnosed with autism can take advantage of a Home Program which is offered by MCSSSD. This is an optional program and is driven by parent interest and need. Once families express an interest in the service, the coordinator of the Home Program meets with the family. The coordinator explains the parameters of the program and helps families to define realistic and obtainable outcomes for the home environment. Parents must agree to attend training as a condition of participation. The training focuses on teaching parents the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. Following training, a home trainer is assigned to the family. Families are eligible for up to eight sessions. Typically these sessions address such issues as toileting, sleeping, mealtime and participation in community activities.